After Indiana men’s basketball’s 61-58 loss to Penn State on Jan. 2, head coach Mike Woodson criticized junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis’ effort, especially when it came to rebounding the ball.
Jackson-Davis finished that contest with just five rebounds, but responded Thursday night against Ohio State with a 27-point, 12-rebound performance at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in the team’s 67-51 win. He finished with five blocks and Indiana outscored Ohio State by 21 points when he was on the court, a team-high in both of those areas.
“I expect him to play like that,” Woodson said at the postgame press conference. “He’s shown that this season, that he can produce numbers like that.”
Jackson-Davis dominated on both sides of the ball as he shot 11 for 17 for Indiana and held Ohio State junior forward E.J. Liddell to 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting with help from senior forward Race Thompson.
Like Jackson-Davis, Liddell was named preseason All-Big Ten and came in averaging 19.6 points per game. However, the Hoosiers’ defense swarmed him all night and forced him to commit three turnovers. Liddell finished with nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal, but the Buckeyes were outscored by 20 points while he was on the court Thursday.
“I spread the floor really hard tonight and got easy looks just from that,” Jackson-Davis said. “We were pushing the pace so I thought that got wear and tear on their bigs. They kept throwing guys at me but I thought I was just outhustling them.”
Jackson-Davis also faced off with an old friend, former Hoosier Joey Brunk, a graduate student center who transferred to Ohio State after two seasons with Indiana. Brunk finished with 6 points in eight minutes and helped Ohio State to an early 15-7 lead, but Jackson-Davis dominated when lined up against him throughout the game.
At one point in the second half, Jackson-Davis saved a ball from going out of bounds by throwing it off Brunk’s head, which he said he’d text him and apologize for.
“He’s my brother, he’ll always be my brother,” Jackson-Davis said. “He’s also a great player and he’s in a great situation, but on the court there’s no friends. He thinks the same way.”
Sophomore guard Trey Galloway complimented Jackson-Davis’ efforts well off the bench for Indiana. Galloway, who scored 8 points and led the team with four assists, returned Thursday night after missing the team’s last 10 games due to a broken wrist.
He also pulled down three rebounds and picked up two steals in 19 minutes. Indiana outscored Ohio State by 17 points while he was on the floor, and he assisted on the team’s final basket off the game — a fast-break, alley-oop dunk by Jackson-Davis.
“We knew that was a piece that was missing,” Woodson said. “My thing has always been next man up. We patiently waited for him to rehab and get back and he responded tonight, which is kind of nice to see.”
Woodson said he hopes seeing Galloway perform the way he did after missing so much time would encourage his other young players to play harder. Galloway said getting back and helping the team was a motivating factor for him in his recovery.
“That’s really what helped me out was trying to stay ready for my teammates,” Galloway said. “I got their backs and they’ve got mine.”
Jackson-Davis and Galloway will look to lead the Hoosiers to another victory at noon Sunday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Bloomington. Minnesota is 10-2 this season and 1-2 in Big Ten play with losses to Michigan State and Illinois.